A “se.xy” handmaiden’s Halloween outfit inspired by Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel and now Television series The Handmaid’s Tale could have been yours for a red hot second. The costume – sold by US lingerie company Yandy – was reported “offensive” by the internet. Obviously.
Yandy duly removed the Sexy Halloween Costumes For Women, saying: “Over the final few hours, it has become obvious which our ‘Yandy Brave Red Maiden Costume’ is being viewed as a symbol of women’s oppression, as opposed to an expression of women’s empowerment.” In the true spirit of Halloween, removing the costume from sale was a misstep. The costume casts among the spookiest images possible for modern women. The spectre of the handmaiden is truly haunting, more so when compared to a ghoul or ghost or zombie.
For those not familiar with Atwood’s nightmarish world, a handmaiden is really a woman who may have an intact reproductive system within an era of increasing infertility. Handmaidens have to carry the offspring from the ruling class. They wear distinctive red dresses and white bonnets that obscure their faces.
The handmaidens are women who are valued only for their reproductive function, they may have no autonomy, and are essentially raped every time they are allotted to bear a kid. In Atwood’s dystopia, women generally aren’t able to read or write and therefore are stuck in domestic roles. As Yandy indicates within their apology, handmaiden’s costumes (albeit canonical, non-s.exy versions) have already been donned around the globe by protesters demanding greater rights for females. The costumes were utilized both in Ireland and Argentina to campaign for abortion rights, they were used in Britain to protest Donald Trump’s state visit, and they’ve been used round the US to protest a number of bills, like funding cuts to reproductive health centres. The thing is to draw in a parallel in between the way women are silenced in dystopian fiction and exactly how women in today’s political climate feel silenced on matters relating to their very own bodies. To some extent, the dystopia is here now.
The Halloween Costumes takes this iconic handmaiden image and propels it in to the absurd. It shortens and tightens the figureless red robe and adds fishnet stockings and very high heels. Besides it connote an (much too real) world where ladies have no say over their reproductive health, but it additionally produces in the fore the veracity that ladies are overtly se.xualised.
It’s not hard to view why so many people wrote into Yandy stating that it had been offensive, but surely there’s also something darkly humorous regarding it too. It’s bizarre that somehow the world of retail will be able to spin a story about oknqdh and misogyny into an empowering garment. The initial item description read: “An upsetting dystopian future has emerged where women no more have a say. However, we say be bold and speak your mind in this particular exclusive Brave Red Maiden costume.” The irony astounds.
Past the laughter, if they meant to or not, Yandy sold an ideal Sexy Halloween Costumes For Women. It mixes the puritanical reproductive coercion from the Handmaid’s Tale with all the objectification and commercialisation of female bodies. It displays a dystopian reality that could be within our future, and may even describe our present. It’s a totally scary method to observe Halloween.